In the Light of 1 Corinthians

Glory to God, Not Men

The ministry of Reverend Tow showed how the work of the Lord is not done by the
wisdom nor strength of men, but only by God. Reverend Tow was not of noble birth, nor
was he a genius (by man’s standard), nor had he much strength and power in himself.
However, God raised him up from a family of migrants from China, and led him all the
way to serve Him full-time in the ministry of the Word. When Reverend Tow started
ministering in the English service at Life Church, it was a very small church which could
barely support him financially. However, he did not let it hinder him from serving God
faithfully. He went with a deacon to the new villages in Malaysia to preach. As Reverend
Tow recounted the itinerant preaching in the new villages in Malaysia, he was clear that it
was not by his own power, wisdom of words, nor strength that caused them to be saved. It
was only possible by God’s enabling.

“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not
many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of
the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to
confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which
are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things
that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30 But of him are ye in Christ
Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and
redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the
Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:26-31)

When the Lord blessed the church with an increase in members as well as conversion of
souls, there were many who were convicted to start new ministries such as Sunday School,
Bible Studies, and even kindergarten. Those whom the Lord used to start these ministries
or to contribute to the work were not necessarily rich, powerful or of high status. Neither
were they the “cream of the crop” from Bible seminaries. They were ordinary people who
loved the Lord and His people. Through the development of the many ministries and
building projects, I saw how the Lord used His people, even the young and the old to
contribute in whatever way they could. Some gave their time and strength to teach the
Word of God, some contributed financially by giving to building funds or the rental of
spaces. The Lord did not fail His people but raised up men to serve Him. All glory be to
the Lord.

When there is abundant growth in the church, it is very easy to glorify men, “He is able to
preach very well. I have learned much from him”, “He is a good speaker, so many have
turned up for this Bible study.” However, as I looked back at these ministries, I have seen
that it can only be the hand of God that have prepared His people to receive His Word and
to bring about an increase in His work. It is important for leaders in the ministry and the
congregation to always see the hand of God directing His work.

“That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this
world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: 7 But we speak the
wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before
the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had
they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But as it is written,
Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the
things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed
them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things
of God. 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which
is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” (1
Cor. 2:5-11)


The Price of True Love

One of the saddest things to experience is to be betrayed by those whom you regard
as your friends and brothers. This was what Reverend Tow experienced.

The Apostle Paul in Acts 20:28-29 warned the Ephesian church leaders to take heed
unto themselves as well as the flock because “grievous wolves” will rise up from
within and do harm to the flock. The issue that Rev Tow had to contend with was the
compromising spirit of ecumenism. It was saddening to see that elders and deacons
in the church seemed to disagree with their pastor when he opposed Billy Graham’s
“Cooperative Evangelism”. Reverend Tow noted that in the first time in 18 years
since the founding of Life B-P Church, such a dissenting spirit was found within the
church (Page 237). The dissenters did not agree with the stand of the pastor, and that
he exposed the unbiblical methods of Billy Graham’s evangelism as well as his
worldly associations with those who denied the fundamentals of the faith.

Some may have concluded that Reverend Tow was showing an unloving spirit
towards Billy Graham who was a “faithful” servant of the Lord. However, Paul says
in 1 Corinthians 13:6 that true biblical charity does not rejoice in iniquity but in the
truth. Some believers in the church of Corinth were tolerating certain sins. When
Paul exposed those sins, there were those who ridiculed him. True love will never
hide sin. It is only worldly love which will tolerate sin and thus, there will be no
desire to speak the truth. Those who have a dissentious spirit will always end up
unhappy when the truth is proclaimed.


Surrendering Rights

Reverend Tow had every right to fight against those who opposed Him. He was the
founding pastor and did not have to leave. However, he did so willingly to maintain
peace and to give the members and other the church session a break from the conflict.

In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul bore his heart out to declare that he would give up his rights
so that he could preach the gospel. I have learnt humility from Reverend Tow’s
example, that humility will lead us to love and not to oppress. It does not mean
compromising on the truth but lovingly and patiently helping others to see the truth. When
Reverend Tow was away for those five and a half months, he never forgot God’s sheep
which were left in Singapore. I pray that I would also by the grace of God be willing to
give up my rights for the advancement of the gospel.

Spiritual Things are Spiritually Discerned

By 1998, there arose problems within the B-P synod. Ecumenism had taken a strong root.
There were also other issues like Charismatism which had crept into the churches.
I felt really sad when I read about the split in the synod. Why can’t these pastors see the
truth? Most of them would have undergone thorough theological studies. They would have
studied and preached from many portions of God’s Word. Is not the Bible clear in its

Then I realised that God’s Word is a closed book to those who have hardened their hearts.
The Bible is a spiritual book, and without God’s Spirit teaching us, we cannot understand
it. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:6-13).

The assessment of Bobby Sng (concerning the dissolution of the B-P Synod) was very
enlightening. He phrased it in a positive light, whereby every B-P church will now have to
account before God. The various ministries may now continue and expand without being
confined to these issues. This made me realise that God is in control even in sad events. He
has His purpose in allowing such events to occur. Since there are pastors who did not hold
a separatist stand, it would be better to split so that the spiritual lives of members can be
protected. The split taught God’s people the importance of not compromising on the truth.


Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew